Is Pink Eye Contagious?

Is Pink Eye Contagious?

If you have a child in daycare or in school, you know that a pink eye breakout is their worst nightmare. Without knowing the cause of conjunctivitis, you have to assume it’s contagious.

At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, can diagnose pink eye, determine if the kind you or your child have is contagious, and recommend appropriate treatment and precautions.

Pink eye 101 

Conjunctivitis, generally known as pink eye, is a common eye condition. Chances are, you likely experienced it yourself once or twice in elementary school. There are three main types of conjunctivitis:  

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral infections of the eye usually spread quickly from one eye to the other. However, this infection is usually brief, and your body will fend it off naturally. Antibacterial eye drops will not help, since the infection is not caused by a bacteria. Instead, avoid touching your eyes when you aren’t cleaning them. Do not share towels or pillows with others to avoid spreading the pink eye. 

Bacterial conjunctivitis 

Bacterial pink eye is just as infectious as viral conjunctivitis, so avoid contact with others and wash your hands often. If your pink eye doesn’t clear up after a few days, visit a doctor to get an antibiotic prescription. Bacterial pink eye is usually accompanied by a lot of green, crusty discharge.

Allergic conjunctivitis 

Allergy-related pink eye is rarer than the other types, but it isn’t contagious. You might experience allergic conjunctivitis after exposure to a known allergen, foreign object, or chemical. If this is the case, flush your eyes thoroughly, and take proper precautions. Unless you know what allergen caused your pink eye, it can be difficult to tell the different types of conjunctivitis apart. When the eye becomes irritated or inflamed, the symptoms are the same regardless of the cause. 

Common symptoms of pink eye 

The symptoms of pink eye are usually noticeable from the moment you wake up. Your eyes may be crusty and glued shut, so you might have trouble opening them. After cleaning your eye(s), you might notice redness and inflammation around the white part of your eyeball. 

Other symptoms include: 

Pink eye must be properly diagnosed to know whether it is contagious or not. Until you see a doctor, assume you can spread it. If your child has pink eye, do not send them to school. They could easily infect other children and cause an outbreak. Wash your pillowcases daily until the infection goes away.

Is your conjunctivitis not clearing up? Call the team at Harlem VistaSite Eye Care to schedule an appointment. You can get in touch by calling 646-453-6506 or booking a visit online.

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